Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Sixth Ruler of Melaka : Sultan Mansur Syah (1456 - 1477)

After the death of Sultan Muzaffar Syah, his son Raja Abdullah was appointed the sixth ruler of Melaka and was known as Sultan Mansur Syah. Sultan Mansur Syah married Tun Putih Nur Pualam, the daughter of Tun Ali and had a few sons and daughters. At the beginning of his reign in Melaka, Sultan Mansur Syah heard about Pahang, then known as Pura, with its large river, gold and widespread jungles, which was ruled by a Siamese royal family and under the control of the Siamese. He then decided to conquer it. The Sultan send a fleet containing two hundred boats, lead by Tun Perak and assisted by Tun Hamzah Datuk Bongkok, commander of the Land Forces and other military officials. On reaching Pahang, a battle broke out between the people of Pahang and Melaka. Pahang, which was then ruled by Maharaja Dewa Sura, was easily defeated by Melaka and the ruler was forced to flee to Upper Pahang following the Pahang River.

However, he was captured by the people of Melaka and handed over to Tun Ali. The Melaka fleet then returned to Melaka with victory and brought with then Maharaja Dewa Sura and his daughter, Wan Seri or Onang Seri who were handed over to Sultan Mansur Syah. This was the first time that the Melaka Sultanate conquered another state. The Sultan of Melaka appointed Tun Hamzah Datuk Bongkok to live in Pahang and administered it as his representative. Princess Waning Seri was converted to Islam and given the name Princess Lela Wangsa and married Sultan Mansur Syah. Besides Pahang, a few other states such as Inderagiri, Palembang, Jambi, Lingga and Tunggal also came under the control of Melaka.

During the reign of Sultan Mansur Syah, there were nine youths who were famous for their bravery and taken by the Sultan as his military officials. They were Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir, Hang Lekiu, Hang Ali, Hang Iskandar, Hang Hasan and Husain. Hang Tuah was the most intelligent and bravest among them. Therefore he was conferred the title Admiral or Laksamana by the Sultan and was known as Laksamana Hang Tuah.

When Sultan Mansur Syah visited Majapahit, he took along with him Laksamama Hang Tuah and his friends Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu to Majapahit. They were well received by the Ruler of Majapahit. During their stay there, the military officials of Melaka known for their prowess, especially Hang Tuah, showed their various skills especially their skill with weapons, which attracted the attention of the people and the ruler of Majapahit. The Ruler of Majapahit then married his daughter, Radin Galuh Cendera Kirana to Sultan Mansur Syah. She bored him a son called Radin Kelang, but died in his teens when he was stabbed by an amok in the town of Melaka. The Ruler of Majapahit also ceded Inderagiri and Siatan to the Sultan of Melaka, which further strengthened Melaka?s power over this territory.

The friendly diplomatic relations between China and Melaka culminated during the reign of Sultan Mansur Syah. The Sultan dispatched Tun Perpatih Putih as his envoy to China and carried a letter from the Sultan to the Emperor. Tun Perpatih succeeded in impressing the Emperor of China with the fame and grandeur of Sultan Mansur Syah that the Emperor decreed that his daughter Hang Li Poh should marry the Sultan. A senior minister of state and five hundred ladies in waiting accompanied the princess to Melaka After Hang Li Poh was converted to Islam, the Sultan married her and built a palace for her on the hill known ever afterwards as Bukit China or Chinese Hill.

Although Sultan Mansur has a high regard for Hang Tuah and his friends, there was an occasion when the Sultan was angry with Hang Tuah. It started with a slander that Hang Tuah was having an affair with one of the maids in the palace. The Sultan therefore ordered Tun Ali to kill Hang Tuah. However, Tun Ali considered Hang Tuah to be a man of extraordinary character and should not be disposed of. He then gathered his courage to lied to the Sultan. Instead of killing Hang Tuah, Tun Ali hid him in the remote village and prohibited Hang Tuah to leave the village. Tun Ali then informed the Sultan that he had killed Hang Tuah. When Hang Jebat, a close friend of Hang Tuah, learned that Hang Tuah had been killed, he became angry and outraged one of the maids in the palace. Although the Sultan had ordered Hang Jebat to be killed, no one dared to face him. It was at this time that the Sultan remembered Hang Tuah and said that if only he was alive, he would be able to defeat and killed Hang Jebat. Tun Ali then told the Sultan the truth, that Hang Tuah was not killed but hidden by him. The Sultan then ordered that Hang Tuah be brought out from his hiding place and was ordered to kill Hang Jebat. On the Sultan?s orders, and despite being close friends, a duel was fought between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. The duel ended with the death of Hang Jebat at the hands of Hang Tuah.

When Melaka became more prosperous and trade flourished, Sultan Mansur Syah build a large and beautiful palace at the foot of Melaka Hill. The palace was the pride of the Malay government as it not only reflected the wealth, prosperity and power of Melaka, but also embodied the excellence and special characteristics of Malay architecture. The palace was built by Malay carpenters under the instructions of Tun Perak. However, a disaster took place. The palace was burnt down not long after Sultan Mansur Syah resided in it. Fortunately, a few palace officials managed to enter the palace to save valuables from inside it. Later, Sultan Mansur Syah ordered that a new palace be built which was big and as beautiful as the former palace. The Sultan resided in it when it was completed.

Melaka reached the height of its glory as an empire during the reign of Sultan Mansur Syah. It was not only wealthy and prosperous as result of its trade, but it had turned a number of states in the Archipelago into its imperial dependencies. The ruler of such states would come to Melaka after they were installed to obtain the blessing of the Sultan of Melaka. Rulers who been overthrown came to Melaka to solicit the Sultan?s aid and in recovering control of their territory. One such example was when Sultan Zainal Abidin, the Ruler of Pasai was toppled by his own relatives, he came to Melaka and pleaded with Sultan Mansur Syah to help him get back his throne. The Sultan then sent an armed force to Pasai, which defeated its men and he then installed Zainal Abidin as the Ruler of Pasai again. Although this victory did not ensure the loyalty of the Ruler of Pasai to Melaka, it did demonstrate the competence and peace of the Sultan of Melaka, as well as the attitude of mutual support, which existed among leaders and governments.

The political strength of Melaka was demonstrated in an incident when Raja Mohammad, the son of Sultan Mansur Syah was accidentally hit with a rattan ball by Tun Besar, the son of Tun Perak. The ball hit Raja Mohammad?s headgear and knocked it down to the ground. In anger, Raja Mohammad immediately stabbed and killed Tun Besar, whereupon some of Tun Besar?s kinsmen retaliated and wanted to kill Raja Mohammad. However, Tun Perak managed to restrain them from such an act of treason by saying that he would no longer accept Raja Mohammad as the Sultan?s heir. As a result of this incident, Sultan Mansur Syah ordered his son out of Melaka and had him installed as the Ruler in Pahang. This incident illustrated Tun Perak?s loyalty to the Sultan, the Sultan?s fairness to his people, his love for his son, the punishment of the guilty and the power of the Sultan who commanded absolute obedience.

Melaka achieved its glory during the reign of Sultan Mansur Syah. Many traders and merchants from different countries came to Melaka to trade. Melaka also became the center for the spread of Islam in the Malay Archipelago. Several states in the Malay Peninsula, the Riau-Lingga islands and Sumatra came under Melaka. They were Pahang, Sungai Ujung, Jeram, Langat, Inderagiri, Palembang, Jambi, Lingga, Tungkal, Siantan, Brunei, Bentan, Kampar and Siak.

However while Melaka was at the peak of its splendour, Sultan Mansur Syah died in 1477 after reigning Melaka for twenty one years. He was well known as one of the Malay rulers who contributed much to uphold Malay sovereignty.

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